How much water should you drink this summer? It’s a trick question. There is no magic number.
The Great Eight Debate
While we’ve all heard the adage that we should be drinking eight glasses of water a day, it turns out this is a myth not backed up by science. No one seems to know precisely how this eight-glasses-rumor got started. Speculation on its origin ranges from a 1945 recommendation by the US Food and Nutrition Board to conspiracy theories connected to the bottled water industry. The truth is, no one knows.
We know this is hard to believe but check out this New York Times article written by professor Aaron E. Carroll who has been trying to stop the water myth from spreading since 2007.
It turns out; our bodies are pretty good at helping us manage our fluid intake. Do you feel thirsty? Get something to drink. Your body sends out thirst signals long before you are dehydrated, so if you drink when you’re thirsty, you’ll be in good shape.
What scientists do know is that when we are thirsty, it’s probably better for our waistlines to grab a glass of calorie-free water versus filling up on sugar-sweetened soda and juice that can have 150 or more calories in an eight-ounce glass.
Drinking Water Isn't Your Only Source
When it comes to our overall health, our total fluid intake is essential, but fluids come from everything we consume during the day, both food and other drinks besides water, including coffee, teas, milk, and even beer and wine.
One way we can get ourselves in trouble from a lack of fluid consumption is if we ignore our body’s natural cues. Have you been feeling thirsty all day, but haven’t had time to stop to eat or drink? Are you pushing yourself through an especially grueling workout on a hot day and starting to feel dizzy? Now’s the time to stop and refuel with fluids. Symptoms of heat exhaustion can range from heavy sweating to dizziness, fatigue, nausea, muscle cramps, headaches, a weak or rapid pulse, or low blood pressure upon standing.
How much do you weigh? How much do you exercise? What’s the temperature outside? All these factors and many more will impact how much water you should drink on any given day. If you drink when you’re thirsty, you are probably ok.